I sprawled on the couch with a project in hand while the television blared for background noise. Too lazy to reach for the remote control, I was subjected to an episode of Hoarders on the A & E channel. I snickered to myself and muttered, “I’m not a hoarder … I’m a collector!” My smug expression promptly turned to horror as every HOARDER said the very same words!
Stricken, I turned off the television and pondered the question, “AM I a hoarder?” A casual visitor to my house would not think so, because I am adept at hiding it from plain sight. But I have seen my closets, my file drawers, and my spare room. The answer was a resounding, “YES.” I am a “closet hoarder.”
I’m fairly certain that every hoarder shown on television started the same way. They accumulated some junk that they hid in the closet … until it spilled out and engulfed the entire house. I couldn’t let that happen to me! Where could I start?
I know that one of my biggest problems is in throwing away paper … particularly magazines. Every time I stand in line at a check out stand, I fall for another screaming headline that promises to make me into something I am not. It started as a small problem, just a few glossy periodicals on the coffee table.
I needed them there, just in case my visitors were not amused by my scintillating conversation; they could flip through magazines. Besides, if I sat down for a few minutes, I might want to read one of them. More importantly, they protected the table top in case one of the cats decided to barf on that spot. It was just a minor problem …
I couldn’t throw away this magazine, because it had an article I might want to read again! That magazine had some pictures that would be great for collage (if I ever get my craft room straightened and if I have time to devote to that craft). This one has recipes, and that one has crochet patterns … they might all have blog fodder!
Suddenly, I had stacks of magazines everywhere. “How did that happen?” I wondered. That’s another statement that every hoarder says! Then, I had a brilliant idea.
Years ago, I had spent countless hours clipping magazine articles that might inspire me. I put them into plastic sleeves and contained them in ring binders. It saved a lot of space to do that. In fact, upstairs in one of the bookshelves, I had three enormous binders filled with wonderful articles that I had saved. I thought, “I should do that again!”
Dutifully, I gathered every old magazine in the house and brought them downstairs to stack by my sofa. I figured I could work a few magazines a night and it wouldn’t take that much time. I’d be getting organized, and I wouldn’t be a hoarder anymore!
I confess I was a bit surprised when I had gathered them all: the stack of magazines was waist high (and I’m a high-waisted woman who stands five foot and six!). It looked pretty daunting.
I dug to the back of the bookshelf to find the binders I had made before. Dusting off the cobwebs (I haven’t touched them since I moved into this house eight years ago), I opened to see what I had saved.
People, every stinkin’ article was about “how to get organized,” “clean your house in 10 minutes a day,” “time-saving tips and tricks,” or “how to live a stress free life.” The articles dated back to 1981!!!
I had an epiphany. I realized three important things:
- There was not a single thing in any of those magazines that could not be found on the World Wide Web.
- I do not have the time required to to clip all those “time-saving tips and tricks.”
- If I clipped them and put them in binders, it would be another eight years before I had another guilt trip and looked at them!
Without a moments hesitation, I grabbed an armload of magazines and marched out to the recycle bin. I tossed out every magazine without opening a single one!
I was jubilant! It felt like such a triumph! That began what I call my Fall Overhaul.
For the last few weeks, I have been sorting the junk stuffed in every nook and cranny in my determination to break my hoarding habit. I’ve had to confront some painful realizations about my need to keep certain items. Over the next few weeks, I’ll talk more about those issues and tell you where I have found some guidance. I can’t call myself “cured,” because I will always have a hoarding instinct. However, if I don’t stand too long in a check-out line, I might have the magazine hoarding under control.
Do any of you have a problem with hoarding certain items? Do you ignore it or deal with it … and if you deal with it, then how?